By Caleb Long, Chattanooga, Tenn.– Every Thursday students will see them on campus. They are the ones dressed in uniform walking to class, eating at Crossroads or studying in the library. They are part of the ROTC program?
Those engaged in ROTC, also known as the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, are on their way to becoming officers in the United States Army. This commitment includes an elective curriculum consisting of lectures, workouts and labs.
Students earn a degree and attend class just like a typical college student. In addition to core classes, they also attend military science classes where they learn military history, tactics, and skills. Leadership is the core value developed in ROTC cadets. Students also train physically and in the field.
“Wake up at 5:30, PT (physical training) starts at 6:20 and lasts until 7:30,”said Ryan Baker, a sophomore with a scholarship through ROTC. “Most days consist of an hour long class specific to your grade. Once a week we have a three hour lab where we apply what we have learned. The time commitment involved with ROTC is strenuous.”
“We take approximately four schedule hours each semester, but the actual out of class time is much higher when you consider studying and preparation,” Baker said.
Most ROTC students take 19 to 20 academic hours each semester. Cadets have a lot expected of them physically and academically.
“There is no stereotypical ROTC cadet, but there is a group of qualities that everyone has. You have to be a hardworking person who believes strongly in ideals, and you have to be willing to serve your country,” Baker said. There is no denying that ROTC requires handwork. “The hardest part is finding time to balance ROTC and school.”
Students are taught the basics of the Army their freshman and sophomore years. Junior and senior year a lot more is expected of them.
Cadets don’t have to make military obligations until their junior year of school, though they can make commitments as early as freshmen year. Those students who are receiving scholarships from the Army work for the Army. Scholarships can be awarded as early as freshmen year and as late their junior year. After junior year, Cadets will be offered a contract and can make the decision to continue with the program or not.
“Technically once you sign your contract through ROTC you are under the jurisdiction of the United States Army Cadet Command with the official rank of Cadet,” Baker replied when asked if he works for the Army. Contracted Cadets have an eight year commitment after college. Those eight years can be served a variety of ways.
Once a Cadet graduates they can follow a few different paths. Active duty Army, Army Reserves, and Army National Guard are all routes which a Cadet can take upon graduation. After they complete school they are commissioned in the United States Army as a Second Lieutenant and will begin their career in the Army.
“There is a huge difference between JROTC and SROTC, the main difference is SROTC is a lot more serious and provides career opportunities with the actual United States Army upon graduation. Many people think that the same people in SROTC are the same people who did JROTC in high school, but that is not the reality of it,” Baker let me know when asked if there was anything he would like his fellow classmates to know.
This weekend the Mocs Company will be traveling to attend a Field Training Exercise or FTX. Cadets will be offered the opportunity to put their training to use in simulated scenarios. Cadets will be tested on their physical fitness, land navigation, and other military skills essential to success in the Army. They would not want to spend Halloween any other way.